Consuming the City : How does non-consumers experience the city?

University essay from KTH/Miljöstrategisk analys (fms)


We often speak of our society as a consumption society, a label that emerged after World War II. But the consumption society dates back longer than that, and can be deduced as far back as the colonialist era and the rise of luxury goods. One could say that the consumption society is the cultural answer to the transfer of the economy into capitalism as well as a consequence of industrial mass production.

Swedes’ consumption habits negatively affect the environment, being part of the wealthiest 20% of the world’s population that stands for more than three-quarters of total private consumption. More and more people consciously change their lifestyle into consuming less. This aversion from the capitalistic consumer society has been around for quite some time but continues to grow stronger. But how does these voluntary non-consumers experience the city that they live in? With major cities today being so focused around an ever-increasing consumption, this study aims to find out how Swedish non-consumers experience the city of Stockholm by the use of qualitative interviews.

The empirical result shows that the interviewed non-consumers primarily choose their lifestyle due to environmental concerns, and that they feel that Stockholm is too centered on consumption, not having enough mixed areas, and that they are missing greenery and cultural activities in the city. Non-consumers seem to influence friends and family to adopt a more sustainable consumption habit, something that could be useful for the further development of a more environmentally friendly and sustainable consumption behavior in Sweden.

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